More than words spilt on Bloor St

September 2nd, 2009

On Monday night we were at a party celebrating the launch of issue number three of Dandyhorse magazine. As our loyal readers will know, we share in the glory of our former Urban Design Expert (sorry about calling you a cascade of detritus in a previous post, Jake. You know we don’t mean it and we wish you every success), who has a short piece (cribbed from these pages) in the issue on the subject of bikelanes along Bloor Danforth. In a nutshell Allderdice claims bikelanes are in order on the street, but that whatever happens it’s imperative the city not destroy the part of the highway that already works well for all road users: the stretch of Danforth from Pape Ave to Broadview. In fact he advocates (and we at the ALLDERBLOB back him on this) an extension of the road-striping east of Pape all the way to Victoria Park Ave, a simple move that would turn all the Danforth into a safe and pleasant “mall” for all: cyclists, drivers and shoppers on foot.

Huzzah. Hooray for Jake. Hooray for the ALLDERBLOB. Hooray for Dandyhorse. Great party, Tammy and Arlene.

Meanwhile that same night, another cyclist was murdered in Toronto. On Bloor Street.

So much for words. Fuck words.

At around 9:45 pm, on Monday August 31, Darcy Allan Sheppard, age 33, father of four, a bike messenger, was killed in a most brutal way in front of many witnesses. The murder has claimed the attention of the nation. You can read stories about it in the Toronto Globe and Mail and Car Advertiser, in the Toronto Star and Car Advertiser, in the National Post and Car Advertiser, as well as in the New York Times and Car Advertiser, as well as most other papers in Canada. It’s front page stuff around the world in fact: try The Times and Car Advertiser of India, for example.

What makes the story shocking is the cold-blooded ruthlessness of the murder, as well as the fact that now under arrest and charged with “criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death” is Michael Bryant, the Harvard-educated former Attorney General of Ontario, former Member of Provincial Parliament, father of two and a stalwart foe of “stunt driving.” He is quoted in the New York Times article saying:

Among his targets were street-racing motorists. In 2007 he gave the police the power to seize and destroy cars modified for racing even if no charges were lodged against their owners.

After describing such cars as being as dangerous as explosives, he said, “We will crush your car, we will crush the parts.”

Later that year the province passed a bill to deem any vehicle traveling more than 50 kilometers an hour, or 31 miles an hour, faster than the speed limit to be racing. The legislation, under which more than 10,000 charges have been brought, allows the police to immediately seize vehicles and suspend licenses.

Note that the “explosive” in this case [our emphasis] was not a souped up street racing machine, but a normal old luxury vehicle, a Saab convertable.

A couple weeks ago we published an ARC press release on the murder of cyclist Tevane Sean Lennon, which said, in part:

We speak of “gunning the engine,” and the cowardice implicit in the gunning down of this man is a demonstration of a power relationship, just as much as if he had been driven into and run over.

How much more clear can this power relationship be than when the former attorney general of Ontario, in his Saab convertable, drives over an off-duty bike messenger?

Okay, it’s a sad day for Bryant too. It’s likely a career-killer. Regardless of the results of the impending trial and regardless of the valient efforts already underway to smear the dead cyclist (read here how Sheppard had outstanding warrants from Alberta for writing cheques to himself, and watch this to learn that according to one witness, Sheppard escalated the violence), Bryant will forever have this death on his hands, his own personal Chappaquiddick.

He’s trying. He’ll have the best legal council money can buy, and it does not take a cynic to imagine a future where he walks free, acquitted of all charges. If convicted, Bryant could receive a sentence of about two years. In the meantime he’s issued a self-serving statement, in a few terse words, expressing “sincere condolences” for the family of his victim.

There’s only one way this most powerful individual will ever be able truly redeem himself–that is if he abandons his car-worship and joins with ARC and others in the call for better bicycle infrastructure across all of Toronto. He could start by pushing his fellow Harvard crony at City Hall, Mayor David Miller, to demand a bikelane be built across the spine of Toronto, along the very street where Darcy Allan Sheppard was killed: Bloor-Danforth.

We will wait to hear if Michael Bryant ever utters the words “Take the Tooker” to judge the “sincerity” of his “condolences” to Darcy Allan Sheppard’s family.

UPDATE: ARC calls for police to be removed from the Bryant case: See TorontoCranks for more.

UPDATE 2: Dave Meslin, founder of Toronto Cyclist Union, agrees with Toronto Police Sheppard was not a cyclist but a pedestrian. See Mez dispenser for more.

upcoming events dept. (VEER, DandyHorse #3)

August 19th, 2009

We received the following request in the mail:

I want to let you know about a TCAT film screening coming up at CineCycle, in the hope that you will be able to spread the word on your fantastic blog:) Let me know if this would be possible. See you around at the Bicycle Film Festival or elsewhere.

Eh? our fantastic blog? Please, sir, it’s blob, not blog.

But aside from that, we aim to please:

Date: Thursday, August 27th, 2009.

VEER. TCAT (Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation) presents an award winning documentary on cycling activism. 8 PM. 8 $. CineCycle, 129 Spadina Avenue.

The Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation is proud to present Veer, a full-length documentary on community based cycling activism through five main protagonists. The film is presented by TCAT and will be screened on August 27th at 8 PM. Tickets are 8 dollars and there will be drinks and expresso [please fix spelling before publication –ed.] available at the bar.

The film has received numerous awards, including Best Documentary at CUFF and a nomination for Best Documentary at the San Joaquin International Film Festival. Cinematographer Jason Turner recalls, “in Feb the film played the Victoria Film Festival where it sold out its first screening, and was the only film to have a second screening added which also sold out with as many people waiting outside as got in to see it”. So, if you want a chance to see Veer in Toronto, line up early for our August 27th screening at CineCycle, at 8 PM.

Also, Dandyhorse magazine, the publishing arm of the mighty Toronto Cyclist Union, is emerging from its chrysalis for the third time in just over a year, next week. Will it be lucky?

Apparently, there’s a party:

dandyhorse celebrates cycling in Toronto!

Come celebrate the end of summer with us on August 31.

Original bike art by Elicser, Marlena Zuber and Janet “Bike Girl” Attard, as well as limited edition dandyhorse t-shirts, for sale and by raffle to lucky ticket holders.

$10 admission includes raffle for limited editionposter sized print of original cover art by Elicser. $5 for subscribers.

(*People with pants on will not be turned away.)

We understand our former Urban Design Expert has pirated a screed from these pages and is blathering in this latest issue about Danforth Avenue. What a bore. What a schnorrer. What a pseudo-intellectual. What a cascade of detritus.

The party’s at the Gladstone hotel(tm) which is not a boutique hotel, but a “unique” hotel [gag –ed.]. The Gladstone’s in the west end. Darn that “west” “end.” They have everything but the best ice cream. For the city’s best ice cream apparently you gotta come to Ellie’s Ville [please, that’s “Leslieville.” –ed.].

Strange convergence of Gun and Car in Toronto: Cyclist killed, Memorial planned

August 15th, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC) announces a MEMORIAL to be held for the latest cyclist casualty on the streets of Toronto: Tevane Sean Lennon, 22, murdered Tuesday August 11, 2009, at the corner of Finch Ave and Martin Grove Rd.
Memorial date: August 18. Meet at Bloor and Spadina, 5:30 pm for a group bicycle ride, or 7:30 pm at the murder site. Bring flowers.

ARC STATEMENT: A couple years ago, a disproportionate number of Torontonians were killed or injured in gunfire, and the media were all over it. “The Year of the Gun,” they called it. And indeed the destruction was wanton and horrifying. At the same time, however, some observed that death on the roads from car crashes, including a large number of pedestrians and cyclists killed by car, went unheralded even while this number was far higher than that of people killed by gunfire.

This year, the media have taken up the concept of a “War on the Car,” as if this inanimate object that so limits our transportation choice in the city of Toronto should be the subject of humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, the death and injury from gunfire and from car crashes both have been the locus of the real “war” on Toronto’s streets: a war that is killing real human beings.

There are actual cases where “vehicular homicide” is planned and carried out, with the guilty party receiving only a minor penalty, if at all, for their “accident.” Occasionally the car and the gun converge, with the homicide clearly intentional but no less horrifying than when it is done using the vehicle alone.

One such case was this past Tuesday, August 11, when Tevane Sean Lennon, 22, a cyclist, returning to his family home from a grocery shopping trip, was fired upon from the window of an automobile and killed.

Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists stands up whenever a cyclist is killed on the streets of Toronto. We pay our respects to the fallen for we know we could be him or her. We understand the danger that goes with the joy of riding a bicycle, and we work toward making the city a safer place for all cyclists, at all times and in all neighbourhoods.

In this strange convergence of the car and the gun as the source of danger to our fellow cyclist, we ask how strange is it, really? The car, like the gun, represents power, a machine purchased toward the end of enabling weak, dumb humans to rise above their station at the expense of the environment, including the lives of other human beings. A cyclist has made a choice of human-ness in the face of dumb power, and as such is vulnerable to the expression of dumb power. We speak of “gunning the engine,” and the cowardice implicit in the gunning down of this man is a demonstration of a power relationship, just as much as if he had been driven into and run over.

No one deserves to be killed on the streets of Toronto, whether by gun or by automobile. We will ride to the site of the murder and hold a moment of silence in memory of the victim, in solidarity with his family and friends and in hope that justice will be served.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

July 19th, 2009

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, a novel, clocks just over a thousand pages, making it shorter than the book John Barber celebrated in the Toronto Globe and Mail and Car Advertiser yesterday (Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace), but longer than that ALLDERBLOB touchstone, A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s a first novel by Susanna Clarke, who spent 10 years writing it (according to Wikipedia). It was acclaimed when published in 2004, winning nomination for the Man Booker prize and earning that year’s Hugo award (for a fantasy novel). Not sure why we need to explain this to you; we feel confident you will know this already. Perhaps it’s because Barber went on at such great length about the number of pages in Infinite Jest. The fact is, it’s a good novel and well worth reading but it would be so even at half the length. What we’re trying to say is the length has nothing to do with it.

Okay, start over.

In starting to write today we were reminded of a quote we read once by Sylvia Plath, the poet, about inspiration: something about the rare flash of a raven’s wing. Of course the Clarke novel celebrates ravens, in a sense, and it deals with the relation between magic and madness, so perhaps that’s where the Plath quote came from. But the notion we were grasping at was the elusiveness of the poetic or creative drive. We were getting at the fact of the goddamn silence around here these past few weeks and months. We were trying to apologize, if you want to know. But nevermind. We couldn’t find the quote, first of all, and secondly we got distracted by a writer’s website we came across, a guy named Augusten Burroughs who writes “memoirs” for crissakes and who doesn’t have a blog, he has a goddamned “blob.”

This got us so goddamned depressed we couldn’t even get started, and even worse the guy had a heck of a sense of humour. In fact he was selling “Sylvia Plath oven mitts” from his site, which must have struck him and some of his clever friends as enormously funny. We got to wondering what would happen if you googled “blob not blog” and spent some time searching for ourselves in the aether, eventually turning up Burroughs again who it turned out wrote the book no one we know has read, “Running with Scissors.” How the hell did it get to be so well known?

We figure it’s the title. Just need a good title.

Well unfortunately Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell does not do this trick, but it sure is long. And we enjoyed it. Did we mention there are no cars in it?

A lot of things got to us about Clarke’s novel. One of them was how, when you really want to speak about something important, something that’s life-or-death, something that really needs to be said if you (or the world) are possibly to regain some semblance of sanity, you can’t find the words for it. You spin around in some tailwind of nonsense, of trivia, of fairytale fluff and finally have to give up as you see your audience lose faith, or interest, or patience.

This is kind of what’s happened here at the ol’ blob, if you want to know the truth. Occasionally we’ve come close to an accurate expression of the crisis at hand, but to be honest the closest we’ve come is when we’ve acknowledged our hopelessness at just that expression. To be honest the only thing that gives us hope is those moments when we give up and say we’ve failed. That’s when we’ve come closest to success, which sadly provides that smallest of incentive to try again another day.

That’s it for today. Maybe if we have our usual volume of clamour following one of our blobbings, we will return with more on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell at a later date. Maybe we’ll write about how we finished the last pages of the book during a Porter Air flight from New York to Toronto the other day. What a pleasure that was! Porter really does almost succeed in making air travel in these sick days palatable. Did we feel hypocritical as hell, flying Porter? Kinda. God damn those Island people anyway, why didn’t they love us when we invited them to? [note: read the final “letter to the editor” presented here if you want to know what we’re talking about. –ed.].

ALLDERBLOB approaches 50

April 18th, 2009

Here at the ALLDERBLOB, we celebrate every day with gusto. But some days we shout about more than others. One such day approaches next week: our 50th birthday.

Yes, the ALLDERBLOB turns 50 on April 22. Yes, the day formerly known as Earth Day.

How will we celebrate? Well, we invite our readers to send their own memories of the special day ahead. What does it mean to turn 50? Who else in history has ever turned 50? What are their accomplishments? Have any of them single-handedly brought GM [that genetically modified automobile company–ed.] to the edge of bankruptcy?

Readers: heed our call! stories may be sent to the ALLDERBLOB at our gmail address (i.e. “allderblob”). The best ones will be published here on a future date, and a waffle at the Only Cafe will be awarded as first prize to one lucky winner.

ALLDERBLOB day: get thee to a dumpster

March 14th, 2009

As we near the fourth anniversary of the day formerly known as St Patrick’s day, March 17, we acknowledge with some solemnity that things have been quiet around the ol’ blob lately.

Too quiet.

Our loyal readers (hi mom!) are asking, what is up?

Fact is, we’ve been reflecting lately.

Fact is, we received a letter some time ago that got us thinking. Who’s it from? Let’s just call them “anonymous.” The letter kind of knocked the wind out of us, if you want to know the truth.

We’ll post the letter, but we want you, our loyal readers (hi, casinoblackjack17!) to know we aren’t blue about it. It’s true the letter has us rethinking the whole blob thing, but that’s okay, right? There will always be Facebook.


Anyway, this is what we fished out of the ol’ mailbag a couple months ago. This is what shut us up, and shut us down. Read it for yourself:


You know what? Everything you do is garbage.

I mean this in the nicest way possible. I’m just stating the facts. It’s not just you, either. It’s everyone. Utter crap, what they do. I’m thinking of Yamasaki, the architect. You know, the World Trade Centre in New York? You know, 9/11? Garbage. It all turns to shit in the end. So why bother? Yamasaki should have left well enough alone after he put up that piece of shit, Pruitt Igoe. You know, the poster-child for social engineering gone wrong?

Le Corbusier would be proud

Le Corbusier would be proud

The original Yamasaki building to undergo controlled demolition?

But he should have been embarrassed.

But he should have been embarrassed.

I’m thinking Marcel Duchamp had the right idea. No, not his first idea. That first one was interesting, all right. I mean, it got people thinking: take a piece of crap (or a crapper, as the case may be), turn it upside down and sign someone’s name on it, et voila: it’s art.

R. Mutt wuz here

R. Mutt wuz here

But Marcel’s second idea is the one I’m thinking was right: it may be art, but it’s still garbage. Just play chess.

I can\'t define it, but I know garbage when I see it.

I can't define it, but I know garbage when I see it.

Look, I know you mean well. I know you think you can have an influence on the world, in some small way. I know you like the fact that googlers turn your work up in odd ways, like when the search for “proclaimed March 17” finds your site first, or the way when Jacob Richler’s old classmates look for him they get you ahead of Wikipedia. I know you’re proud of the fact that David Frum and a bicycle are forever linked in your memorable prose.

But that’s just it. It’s not forever. It may not even be memorable. I mean, look at the World Trade Centre. Look at Pruitt Igoe. Forever? What could be more forever than a 110-storey tower or two? But today? It’s all garbage, buried at Fresh Kills or melted down at a Chinese foundry. And your writing is garbage too. Even now, it steams in the dustbin alongside the prose stylings of Jack Lakey and the forgotten antics of Case Ootes.

You will die, and your writing will be shoved into a box somewhere and forgotten. Or more to the point, your heirs will decline to pay your web host service and the switch will be turned.

One day, not even Homer choking Bart (rebranded) will remain [You say that like it’s a bad thing.–ed.].

Never mind, Jake. No offence, but why not just play chess? (Or go, if you have to be a snob about it).

Marcel Duchamp, sit down.

Marcel Duchamp, sit down.

That’s sad about John Travolta.

January 7th, 2009

When something bad happens to John Travolta, it happens to all of us. Fortunately, we have Gonzales. Gonzales makes everything from the 70s better.

homer choking bart rebranded–UPDATE

December 26th, 2008

We keep track of our statistics in a scattered way.

For example, we know what search topics bring folks to our site. Here’s today’s list, which is a tally for the month of December to date (the number indicates how many searches have come to the ol’ blob by way of the word or phrase that follows):

49 homer choking bart
21 future cars
20 guy giorno
17 computers internet blog
15 igor kenk
14 jessica rabbit
12 allderblob
9 francis wilkinson
9 mitch goldhar
7 jacob richler
7 who framed roger rabbit jessica
5 who framed roger rabbit jessica rabbit
5 dennis morgan
4 homer choking bart simpson
4 allderdice
4 stevie harper
4 invisible cars
4 see the new car in the jones’ driveway? you may soon be driving one just like it by david leonhardt
4 guy giorno john baird
3 race the sun cover
264 [not listed: 238 search terms]

We’re not proud [that’s obvious.–ed.] but we would have wanted to be able to say folks find us because they share our concern about car advertising: because they believe, with us, that cars are just as detrimental to the globe as alcohol, tobacco and firearms, and that like those other social ills, cars should be highly restricted in the way they advertise themselves. You know, “ban car ads?” The phrase “Ban Car Ads” should be the number one search item bringing readers to the ALLDERBLOB.

But our statistics tell us otherwise. Fact is, a lot find us because we once posted a shot of “homer choking bart simpson,” and (on another occasion) “Jessica Rabbit,” and for some reason folks will want to clip those shots and use them to illustrate obscure points of their own. Fact is, at one time not too long ago, a google search for the phrase “homer choking bart” found the ALLDERBLOB at the top of the heap.

This bugged us.

After all, we’ll be the ones to make obscure points around here. And after all, our site is not about glorifying pop cultural icons. If anything, it’s the reverse [whatever that means –ed.].

So as an experiment we doctored that shot of fatherly child abuse that’s such a staple of amerikan kulture, and returned it to its original spot on our pages. We tattooed the suggestion, “WTC7 CONTROLLED DEMOLITION” on Homer’s outstretched arm.

homer choking bart: 9/11 mystery?

homer choking bart: 9/11 mystery?

Would Matt Groening approve?

Whatever. The fact is, our little sabotage did not work as we hoped: it did not seek all the pages that referenced our site and blow them up. However, our google chart for the phrase “homer choking bart” has dropped off the top 10, which suits us fine. Strangely however, the doctored image has wormed its way here and there (scroll down the pages in question to see what we mean). Funny. No, really. Kinda funny.

What are people, stupid?

UPDATE: Here’s another one. Yikes! This thing is going to be bigger than Jesus!

Bigger than jesus, I tells ya! (scroll to the bottom).

Yet another one.

UPDATE: Feb 23 2009: The list keeps growing… but we have other irons in the fire these days. If the lasting imprint of the ALLDERBLOB is to implant the meme of 9/11 deception in the form of a Homer Simpson tattoo, well that will constitute a life well-lived by anyone’s measure (not that we need to prove anything to anyone…).

Santa Claus and the great north pole melt of 2008: Don’t cry for me, Argentina!

December 24th, 2008

Like many of you on Xmas eve, we at the ALLDERBLOB are huddled around our teevees holding out for a bit of warmth. It’s hard to come by these days. Luckily, with climate change and all that, we’re expecting big changes in the home heating department.

Santa Claus is apparently going to have some home heating issues of his own, a lot sooner than anyone predicted!

Speaking of jolly old St. Nick, wasn’t that a nice present he handed over to the outgoing U.S. president the other day? After the waterboarding and all, he seemed ready to give George just about anything he could’ve asked for–but this was better than any climate change expert had predicted. Even Dick Cheney, the most knowledgeable climate change expert of any.

Oh wait, that’s not Santa Claus. That’s Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Oops. My bad.

“War on Cars” proclaimed over: we won already. We need something new to do with our time

December 12th, 2008

Back to the topic of the day, the so-called “car-czar” to be appointed to take over the Little Three in the U.S.

(Oh–Did we mention we’re lazy?)

Too lazy to rewrite what we’ve posted elsewhere. Instead, here it is, thanks to the magick of “control-V.”

Allderblob | Thursday, December 11, 2008, 6:35 pm

Yeah, war on this, war on that… pretty effective stuff. What we need is a new tactic. What about “Peace?” Let’s have Peace on cars. With Peace on cars, there’d be consensus on one thing: cars haven’t met the expectations we’ve placed on them. Cars, we forgive you. Now we can move on. With Peace on Cars we’d plow suburbia back into forests and farmlands, bring national train service (and public transit in cities) up to the Bulgarian standard (for starters), build liveable, walkable, bikable communities, and create jobs in sectors (like building the new trains and infrastructure to support them) that doesn’t wreak the same havoc that the international automobile project did throughout the last century. Clearly it’s in this last category that the new nationalized automobile companies will find their due. Good luck!

“Bring trains up to Bulgarian standards–” We like that line a lot. [So does your pal Kunstler. –ed.]